What Do Your Students’ Personality Types Mean? by Danielle Rhodes


One of the most popular personality inventories is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI). Isabel Myers-Briggs and Katharine Briggs, using Carl Jung’s theory of personality types, created this inventory to pinpoint an individual’s preferences through a series of questions. The inventory then takes the individual’s answers and assigns him or her a personality type, based on four major categories:

1) Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)—These refer to activities that energize a student. Extraverted students enjoy being around large groups of people and gain energy from the active world around them. Introverted students are more likely to sit back and observe. They get fueled after time alone or with a group of close friends.

2) Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)—These describe the method in which a student receives and interprets information from the world around them. Students who score high in the sensing type are likely to pay more attention to information processed through the five senses and hands-on experiences than students who score high in intuition. “N” students rely mostly on their impressions of situations to acquire information and develop new ideas.

3) Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)—These describe students’ decision-making processes. A “T” student will weigh all the facts and information before making a logical, informed decision, while an “F” student is more attuned to everyone’s feelings, including their own, and uses that knowledge to make the most harmonious decision.

4) Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)—These refer to how students interact with the world around them and how the world perceives them. A “J” student is not judgmental in the negative way we usually think of the term. Rather, this category means a student typically prefers structure and planning. On the other hand, a “P” student is more spontaneous and open to change.

Now that you have a better idea of what each distinct category means, let’s look at their different combinations. With a better understanding of these 16 personality types, you can plan your activities, lessons, and youth room to fit the personality types of the students in your ministry. If you aren’t sure what your students’ personality types are, there are plenty of free tests on the Internet (although these won’t be as definitive as taking an official Myers-Briggs inventory test). I’ll cover the extraverts today, and later this week, I’ll explain the introverted personality types.

1) ENFJ (Teacher)

These students are personable, disarming, and aware of the needs of those around them. However, other domineering students or extremely introverted individuals can make them feel unsure of themselves. Small groups will give ENFJs opportunities to take the lead in discussion and will also expose them to other personality types they might otherwise avoid.

2) ENFP (Champion)

These students thrive in any environment rich with multiple personalities, although they may be seen as attention seekers. These students are enthusiastic about their beliefs and can be quite persuasive. However, ENFPs may have a hard time giving others a chance to speak. They can also become so excited about new friendships, that old friendships are neglected for a time. By giving ENFPs a chance to speak in front of the group and encourage them to share their faith with others, you can provide a positive outlet for these students’ energy.

3) ENTJ (Field Marshall)

ENTJs tend to assume leadership roles quickly. Unlike ENFPs, these students don’t necessarily need the approval of others to create and carry out a plan. When they are challenged, ENTJs can become argumentative and unyielding. Small group leadership will give these students a forum to fine-tune their leadership skills. Or, if you’re up for it, invite an ENTJ into the planning session for an event. That will help this student learn to give and receive constructive criticism.

4) ENTP (Inventor)

These students love solving problems and creating new ways to accomplish routine tasks. They are quick thinkers and outspoken, skilled debaters. These students will actively avoid repetitive, routine tasks, and they require straightforward, no-nonsense leadership. These students develop close bonds with those important to them, so they thrive in personal discipleship training. Shake up the routine for large group nights to keep these students excited and engaged.

5) ESFJ (Provider)

Like the name suggests, these students have an uncanny knack for understanding the needs of those around them and striving to provide for those needs. They enjoy being in roles that help them care for others. These students tend to be as protective as they are caring. Often, their need to preemptively protect others from harm leads them to perceive the world as dangerous and untrustworthy. Incorporate frequent service opportunities in your ministry to see your ESFJs excel.

6) ESFP (Performer)

These students love having fun and entertaining. They have no problem making newcomers feel welcome and included. They are excited by new things and get frustrated by boring, routine operations. ESFPs work great in teams, so include them on a student leadership team to get things accomplished. They’re also great on greeter and welcome teams.

7) ESTP (Promoter)

These students are thrill seekers. They love the excitement of high-stakes games. Flexible and outgoing, ESTPs respect individuals who can play and compete on their level. They are also accomplished speakers, utilizing showmanship and “shock” to engage their audience. These students will be bored senseless with theoretical concepts, so, like ISFPs (which I’ll cover later this week), make room for hands-on activities—especially competitions—to capture and keep their attention.

8) ESTJ (Supervisor)

ESTJs excel in organizing people to accomplish tasks. They are practical, straightforward, and efficient. Loyalty is important to these students—they will feel betrayed if they are not appreciated for their gifts. You may find that these students are uneasy with the unconventional and strive to appear “normal.” Willing and ready to express their opinions and principles, these students appreciate it when you give them a venue to do so.

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